Multnomah Falls Things to Do

  • Benson Bridge
    Benson Bridge
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  • Ponytail Falls
    Ponytail Falls
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  • Middle Oneonta Falls
    Middle Oneonta Falls
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Best Rated Things to Do in Multnomah Falls

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    Multnomah Falls

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Sep 7, 2004

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    Multnomah Falls is without doubt one of the most beautiful and most photographed waterfalls in the United States. It plummets 620 feet from its origins on Larch Mountain into the Columbia River Gorge, making it the fifth highest waterfall in the nation, and America's second highest year-round waterfall. With 2 million visitors a year, it is Oregon's top tourist destination.

    Legend has it that sickness once threatened the Multnomah Indian Tribe and the chief's daughter appeased the Great Spirit in behalf of her people by throwing herself off the face of the Falls. Some visitors say that her face may still be seen in the mist.

    A winding trail takes hikers 1/4 mile to the Benson Bridge which disects the upper and lower portions of the falls. The upper falls drops over a moss covered rock cliff a breathtaking 542 feet, then gathers into a small pool before flowing under the bridge and plunging another 70 feet. Beyond the bridge, more energetic hikers may follow the trail for another mile to the top of the falls, with views of the beautiful Columbia River Gorge.

    Multnomah Falls
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    Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Sep 7, 2004

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    The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area encompases 295,000 acres of natural wonderland overlapping six counties on the Oregon/ Washington border, just east of Portland, OR. It is more than just a natural area. The Gorge is also a critical transportation corridor and is home to 52,000 people with farms, communities, businesses, schools, churches and homes.

    The National Scenic Area, the only such area in the nation, was created in 1986 when President Ronald Reagan signed the National Scenic Area Act into law. It is a special area - different from a National Park or National Forest, but under the administration of the USDA Forest Service. The management plan for the Scenic Area calls for continued growth of recreational and other development opportunities while protecting the scenic, cultural and natural resources of the Gorge.

    Karen at the Scenic Area Entrance
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    Latourell Falls

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Sep 7, 2004

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    For those coming east from Portland, this is the first waterfall you will see of several in the Columbia River Gorge. In fact, the Gorge contains the largest collection of high falls in the nation. There are a total of 77 falls on the Oregon side alone.

    Latourell Falls is named for Joseph Latourell, a prominent early citizen who donated the falls and the land surrounding it for public enjoyment. The Falls plunges 249 feet from a sheer cliff face on Pepper Mountain, and offers a prime example of entablature jointing. This is a distinctive jointing pattern that is found in the Columbia River basalt flows. Stress, produced when lava cools and contracts caused these joints to form into beautiful prisms and columns.

    Latourell Falls is a very short hike from a parking lot along the highway. A 2.1 mile graded trail will take hikers to the Upper Latourell Falls, which plunges about 100 feet, higher up on the mountainside.

    Karen at Latourell Falls
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    Wahkeena Falls

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Sep 7, 2004

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    Wahkeena Falls is a spectacular series of several smaller cascades and falls with a total drop of 242 feet. It is known as a "tier falls," with many seperate falls that can be viewed all at once. We took a very pleasant short hike up to and across Wahkeena near it's mid-way point. Here a small footbridge led us across the 15-foot face of the falls, amidst rocks covered with moss and ferns. Only a couple of the tiers can be seen in this photo.

    Wahkeena means "most beautiful" in the Yakima Indian language.

    Stephen at Wahkeena Falls
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    Vista House at Crown Point

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Sep 7, 2004

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    Vista House is perched atop Crown Point, a 14.5-million-year-old basalt promontory shaped by the same volcanic lava flows, floods and winds that created the Columbia River Gorge. From its vantage point 733 feet above the Columbia River, it offers sightseers and photographers one of Oregon's most inspiring views.

    Construction of Vista House began in 1916, and when we were there in 2004, it was undergoing a $2 million restoration.
    The gray sandstone structure is 44 feet in diameter and 55 feet high. It serves as a rest stop and observatory for travelers on the old Columbia River Gorge Highway, and is a memorial honoring Oregon's pioneers. Vista House has been protected as a state park since 1938, and was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1971.

    Vista House is open daily, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., mid-April through mid-October.

    Vista House at Crown Point
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    Portland Women's Forum State Scenic Viewpoint

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Sep 11, 2004

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    Some of the best views in all of the Columbia River Gorge may be seen from the Portland Women's Forum State Scenic Viewpoint, also sometimes called Chanticleer Point. It is a perfect spot from which to begin your exploration of the Columbia River Gorge. Perhaps more photographs are taken from this spot than anywhere else in the Columbia River Gorge.

    There are no facilities here except a parking area and two viewing platforms, with informative exhibits. There is no fee at this "must stop" for photographers and sightseers.

    View from PWF State Scenic Viewpoint
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    Multnomah Falls

    by GuthrieColin Updated May 11, 2007

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    The falls are a charming sight and are visible even from I-84 on your way to the site. There is a small bridge between the two falls and it lends for a surreal spectacle reminiscent of a "Lord of the Rings" village.
    Following the 1.5 mile (2 km) trail toward the top of the falls you will cross the bridge and have a better view of the upper falls. The trail is fairly steep and takes around 30 minutes walking time to reach the top.
    I was fairly disappointed in the lack of a better vantage point of the falls from the top. The view is merely of the Columbia Gorge below. However it does allow you to gain perspective of how far down the water actually falls (620 feet or 188 m).
    After you have viewed the falls to your contentment a visitors center is available at the base for you to purchase souvenirs and learn more about the falls and the Native American inhabitants. Their is also a restaurant which is located on the second floor of the lodge just above the gift shop.

    Multnomah Falls View from the bottom Multnomah Falls People for Scale
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    Horsetail Falls

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Sep 8, 2004

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    Continuing east on U.S. Hwy. 30, just 2.5 miles from Multnomah Falls, you will see Horsetail Falls. It is at a turnout right on the highway and no hiking is required to reach it. There is a small parking lot and a picnic area, but no other facilities.

    Horsetail Falls , near Ainsworth State Park, drops 176 feet off the northeast side of Larch Mountain into a cool crystal clear plunge pool. Those who dare may take a swim or go wading here.

    Horsetail Falls
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    Ponytail Falls

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Sep 8, 2004

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    Ponytail Falls, also known as Upper Horsetail Falls, is reached by a .4 mile (one way) footpath which leads up from the base of Horsetail Falls. The trail is moderately steep but well graded and offers some good views of the Columbia River Gorge. The pathway leads around completely behind the 100-foot Ponytail Falls, and continues on up Larch Mountain for those who wish a longer hike.

    When we were at Ponytail Falls a group of young people were swimming in the deep plunge pool beneath the falls. It was a bit cool, and reminded me of some of the Tennessee waterfalls where I used to swim when I was younger.

    Ponytail Falls
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    Multnomah Falls

    by goingsolo Updated May 30, 2006

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    There is a short but steep trail (approx 1 mile) which leads to a viewing platform at the top of the falls. The trail is pretty popular and was packed on the weekend summer's day when I visited, which made the steady uphill grind resemble rush hour on a freeway and made for a time-consuming one mile.

    In late May, the falls were a less popular destination as a late season cold front made for a soggy and chilly day. It was a better day for a speedier walk up to the top, but rain made the path slippery and the cool spray from the falls was impossible to dsitinguish from the cool and steady rainfall and was far less welcome than on a summer's day.

    The falls themselves cascade 620 feet straight down and are pretty impressive. These are the second highest year round falls in the United States. Multnomah Falls plummet from Multnomah Creek, a stream which flows from Larch Mountain and is fed from natural springs, snowmelt and rain.

    En route, you can catch glimpses of the nearby Columbia River.

    Multnomah Falls Multnomah Falls Multnomah Falls Multnomah Falls Multnomah Falls
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  • thecatsmeow's Profile Photo

    Hike the trails

    by thecatsmeow Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Follow the Larch Mountain trail 1/4 mile to the historic Benson arch bridge. From there, the top of the falls is just one mile further (this is fairly steep, though!). You may want to continue on the Larch Mountain trail to the top (six miles), where a spectacular view of the Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River Gorgeawaits you. Free maps are available at the Visitors center. For the more serious hikers, there are more detailed maps that can be purchased.
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    USDA Forest Service, Multnomah Falls Visitor Center

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    Oneota Falls

    by goingsolo Written May 30, 2006

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    Multnomah is the most known, and most popular, but there are numerous falls in the area. There are separate trailheads along the byway, or you can hike from Multnomah to any of the other less towering cascades. Oneota Falls is another destination, less popular than the granddaddy of falls, which means a chance for a bit of solitude on a summer's hiking day.

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    Horsetail Falls

    by goingsolo Written May 30, 2006

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    Another pitstop and a different sight to behold. The falls, although impressive, do get a bit repetitive after a while. Unless the sight of falling water really excites you, your best bet is to pick one or two of the trails . Multnomah is easy because its visible from the road and parking lot. If time permits, pick one of the others,stretch your legs for a bit, and enjoy the view and the cool spray of water.

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  • jmpncsu's Profile Photo

    Multnomah Falls

    by jmpncsu Written Feb 7, 2014

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    A visit to Oregon is not complete without a stop at Multnomah Falls, Oregon's highest waterfall. It is incorrectly claimed to be the fourth highest in the US and second highest year-round waterfall in the US, but regardless of its rank, Multnomah is truly spectacular. It's right off the Historic Columbia River Highway and I-84 east of Portland, so very easy to visit, and there are touristy amenities available. There is ample parking, a lodge with a restaurant and restrooms, as well as numerous hiking trails to explore the region further. The falls consists of two drop - the upper drop is 542 feet and the lower drop is 69 feet. In between the two is the Benson Bridge that allows a closer view and continues the trail for those wanting to hike to the top. The photography opportunities here are fantastic, but remember a wide-angle lens to capture the entire waterfall. The only downside is that the area is extremely crowded due its ease of access and proximity to Portland. The hiking trails, however, due offer the opportunity to escape the crowds. But crowded or not, this is definitely an attraction that's not to be missed!

    Multnomah Falls Multnomah Falls Lower Section Multnomah Falls Upper Section
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  • PinkFloydActuary's Profile Photo

    Multnomah Falls

    by PinkFloydActuary Written Nov 22, 2007

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    The highlight of the area...don't worry, you can't miss it. There's a specific exit off of I-84 for the falls, but if you're on the scenic drive, you'll know you've hit it when you hit the wall of traffic and people. There's a number of decent sized parking lots, but they can fill up quickly. Once you're situated, take your time to see the falls from the various vantage points. There's a gift shop/snack bar/restrooms, leading to a wide path that ends at the base of the falls, where you'll see the classic shot of the two tiers of the falls as well as the Benson bridge. You can then take a short hike up to the bridge, which crosses over the lower cascade of the waterfall. The two tiers combine to be a nearly 620 foot waterfall, and it is definitely a sight to behold!

    Multnomah Falls

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